Net junkies just can’t get enough video. No longer is it a cool, polished feature of top industry Web sites. This innovative element of Web 2.0 is a feature that surfers expect from everyone today – including their favorite authors.
Most authors won’t even try to start video elements. They think it’s too expensive, too complicated and won’t do much for them, anyway.
Don’t let these myths hold you back. Technology is cheap, and slick marketing videos are not what viewers want. They want something authentic – real. It does not matter if the clip is grainy, shaky, or slightly out of focus. If it is genuine, then people today take notice.
All you need to get started is a Web cam, a good headset and a glib tongue – or at least an idea of what you want to share.
How to use it
You can create professional videos for fellow authors, or pitches for editors and agents to post on your Web site. These videos do not have to be perfect, but you do have to dress for the occasion. Be certain to write out what you want to say and keep your message succinct and professional.
Conference footage is interactive and takes readers and other authors to events they may not be able to attend. Tape yourself interviewing authors, agents, editors and publishers, or participating in a panel discussion. Post these to video sharing sites and to your blog and Web site. Use the Share button to share links to those video posts on your Ning, Facebook and MySpace. By sharing the link, you will drive more traffic to the sites you want readers to visit. Author Morgan Mandel offers up clips from the Love Is Murder conference on her YouTube feed.
Using SKYPE or uStream, you can chat live with book clubs across the globe. This is a popular way for authors to personally touch base with readers without the travel expenses. You must have a high speed Internet connection like DSL and a headset for this option. Headsets are fairly inexpensive on sites like Amazon.com.
Video diaries are all the rage. Share the writing process with your fans by creating a video diary of your next project. Don’t just tell them about the story; show them what it’s like to write it. Do not hesitate to share your angst, the bad days, writer’s block, deadline pressure, and the need for chocolate when things just aren’t coming together. Let people get to know the real you while generating interesting in your latest project.
For a small annual fee, Flikr Pro allows you to post what they call a long photograph – 90 seconds worth of footage that’s more than a still, but less than a video segment. This is an excellent option to use when doing short blurbs about contests, upcoming book signings and plugs for your publishing house, other authors and contest sponsors. This is also a great service to use when sending holiday greetings. If you share a blog or Web site with several authors, consider splitting the fee to keep costs down.
Have a friend or family member video your autograph sessions and chats with fans. Get quotes from fans and use this footage to create a montage about your latest book tour. Post to a video sharing site like YouTube or Blip. Fans will love it. They will send the link to all of their friends and post to their own blogs – especially if they are featured in a few frames.
Do you conduct speaking engagements at events other than writing conferences? Take a note from children’s book Sara Ann Denson, who tapes her talks with students at elementary schools and uses it to promote her work, as well as plug her speaking abilities.
Book trailers are finally catching on, and will be key to future online novel promotions. HarperCollins has several for the popular teen horror series Wicked Dead by Stefan Petrucha and Thomas Pendleton on its YouTube feed. You can create your own, or hire a company to create a trailer that will pique the interest of readers. This option will be more important than the back cover blurb within the next few years, as media-savvy Web viewers come to expect the element from writers. Check out the HarperCollins feed at YouTube. You can also find several book trailers on the Crimespace network at Ning.com.
The best clips are viral videos. If you have captured yourself falling down the stairs – and don’t have a problem showing your humanity turned upside down – then share it. You would be shocked at how quickly you can develop a net reputation by having no shame.
How to share it
Though YouTube is the household equivalent of video sharing, there are many other sites better suited for your needs – including some that don’t have the time or file size restrictions. Top video sharing sites denoted by PC World Magazine include BlipTV, Brightcove Beta, Revver, and Vimeo. For their complete rundown, visit http://tinyurl.com/6q2rmy.
Wikipedia offers a comprehensive list of all sites on the Web at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_video_sharing_websites. Be certain to Google ones before you sign on to see what others users think. Blogs are excellent sources of reference, as is HYPERLINK www.Cnet.com.
Video doesn’t need to be slick or savvy to attract viewers. It just has to be fun and personable. Experiment around with equipment and services before fully enabling your video marketing plan. Ask for help when you need it – kids are an excellent resource for techno jargon and goodies.
Got a marketing question? Ask Angela at firstname.lastname@example.org and your question may be used in a future column.